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( L to R) -  Frances Congdon, Assistant Professor of Education at Centenary College and Literacy Expert, Mayor Tim McDonough, Hope Chair, Mayors Book Club,  Sandra Genduso, Chair, Centenary Education Department, Pat Brisson, Children’s Book Author, Anna Lustenberg, Director, External Affairs, Verizon, Bill Dressel, League Executive Director and Mayor Arthur Ondish,Mount Arlington, President, League of Municipalities Education Foundation and League 1st Vice President.

Hackettstown, N.J., May 9, 2011 – Students from Hope Elementary School, Byram Elementary School, Mount Arlington Elementary School and Frenchtown Elementary School participated in Literacy Day recently at Centenary College.  This event is part of Centenary College’s participation in the Mayor’s Book Club initiative, which was launched by the New Jersey League of Municipalities (NJLM) to promote literacy for first-grade students in northwest New Jersey.   The program is funded by the NJLM Educational Foundation through a generous grant from the Verizon Foundation and PSE&G.

Event opening remarks were given by Professor Sandra Genduso, Associate Professor of Education and Chair of the Education Department at Centenary College; Anna Lustenberg, Director of External Affairs at Verizon; as well as William G. Dressel, Jr., Executive Director from the New Jersey State League of Municipalities and the various mayors: Tim McDonough, Mayor of Hope and Chairman of the League of Municipalities Mayors Book Club; Arthur R. Ondish, Mayor of Mount Arlington and President of the League of Municipalities Education Foundation and League 1st Vice President; Jim Oscovitch, Mayor of Byram Township and Ron Sworen, Mayor of Frenchtown.  Members of the Centenary College Education Honor Society, Kappa Delta Epsilon (KDE) who are advised by Professor Frances Congdon, Assistant Professor of Education and Literacy Expert at Centenary College, were available to help with the event.

The students from four of the eight participating Mayor’s Book Club had the opportunity to meet children’s book author Pat Brisson and listen to her read her book, “Benny’s Pennies.”  Brisson, who has written over 20 books in her career, talked about her love of reading and writing and discussed the background of her books, which vary in topics and intensity of subject matter.  She also discussed how she uses her own experiences when developing a story and how a wonderful aspect of writing a story loosely based on reality is that the author can change the story and the ending any way that he or she sees fit.

Mayor Timothy McDonough with children in Mayors Book Club shirts

After Brisson’s talk, the children had the opportunity to watch the Centenary student performance of “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” which is based on the 1985 book written by Laura Joffe Numeroff.

“I anticipate that the children who came to this event will continue to be enthused with the act of reading,” says Professor Sandra Genduso.  “It is a passion that I hope they carry for the rest of their lives.”

The Mayor’s Book Club is designed to engage municipal leaders and their local partners to enhance early literacy among young children.  The members of the initial pilot program selected two schools each from four counties: Lambertville and Frenchtown Elementary Schools in Hunterdon County; Washington Borough Taylor Street and Hope Elementary Schools in Warren County; Byram and Stanhope Elementary Schools in Sussex County; and Boonton and Mount Arlington Elementary Schools in Morris County.  The Education Department at Centenary College was integral in determining which institutions were chosen for this program and served as a resource during the implementation of the Mayor’s Book Club.

First-graders who participated in the Mayor’s Book Club had the opportunity to be read to by their own mayor. Each student who participated in the program will receive a new book. Each school district that has read at least 1,000 books will be given $1,000 to be spent on books for its first-grade classroom libraries.  The number of books read by schools that attended the event at the College ranged between 600 and 2,000 books thus far.

“I would like to thank the Education Department at Centenary College for its involvement with this program,” says Mayor McDonough.  “They have been integral in the process of establishing this program and were the gracious host of the children’s event.”

 Founded in 1867 by the Newark Conference of the United Methodist Church, Centenary College’s academic program integrates a solid liberal arts foundation with a strong career orientation. This mix is designed to provide an educational experience that prepares students to succeed in the increasingly global and interdependent world.

Centenary College’s main campus is located in Hackettstown, N.J., with its equestrian facility in Washington Township (Morris County). The College’s Centenary Adult and Professional Studies (CAPS) program offers accelerated degree completion programs in Parsippany, with an additional facility in Iselin, and at corporate sites throughout New Jersey.



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